[authored by Robert Sands]
For many who drive 3rd Street in Washington, NC, the old deserted two-story house – just past the Bonner Ave intersection, recessed well back from the curb with an overgrown line of hedges reaching skyward pinning it in on one side and the open lot of a funeral home on the other – offered little clue to its history or a nod to its continued existence in the future. Just last week, the ownership of this tired old house with a huge oak tree and its branches hanging low in the back yard, hiding a large equally tired and run-down red barn, changed hands once again. After sitting there in the searing heat of summers past, being battered by hurricanes and dreary winter rains, who could fault a 100+ year old house just wanting to slowly let the vegetation climb up its weather-beaten wooden siding, or somehow innervate through the walls and broken windows, and succumb finally to the inexorable march of indifference and neglect?
In a year from now, 219 E. 3rd Street in Washington, NC will welcome 4-6 female veterans to its repaired and painted wood siding, rehabilitated common area, three bedrooms and two baths, and an open kitchen with lower than average ceilings upstairs and down. Residents 100 years ago were shorter then and smaller. The wooden steps ascending to the second floor are steep yet not wide, but original to the house. The female veterans will traverse them like families at the turn of the 20th century did, carefully and determined. The old house will then be a new old house and already rehabilitated as its initial cadre of residents enter the front door and navigate those stairs for the first time, seeking to also complete the last stages of their own rehabilitation and recovery from substance abuse.
The Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities purchased 219 E. 3rd on June 1st and on June 5th, David Steckel and I started thinning the overgrown trees, bushes and shrubs, which pinched the house inside its property line. The road to rehabilitating a tired old house and tired souls (later) has begun.